Lemon Sour in Loss to Boston; Red Sox 7, Indians 3

June 15, 1948

Fresh off of an outstanding road trip, the first place Cleveland Indians opened up a 15-game home stand with a clunker Tuesday night, dropping the series opener to the Boston Red Sox, 7-3.

With American League wins leader Bob Lemon (9-4, 2.73) on the hill, the Indians had to feel good about their chances heading into the contest. The Tribe ultimately fell short, however, due to Lemon’s lack of command and three Cleveland errors.

The Red Sox countered Lemon with Mel Parnell (2-4, 2.74), who had come off of three straight defeats heading into Tuesday night’s game at the Stadium. Parnell pitched well enough to win on Tuesday and notched his second victory of the season in a complete game effort.

With the victory, the Red Sox remain one of baseball’s hottest teams, as they have now come out on top in eight of their last ten ballgames. The hot streak might have come too late, however, as Boston got off to a dreadful start this season and still finds itself in fifth place, nine and a half games behind the front running Tribe. With Philadelphia’s 4-1 loss to the Tigers at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, the Indians kept their advantage over the second place Mackmen at three games.

The Indians and Red Sox battled through a scoreless tie into the fifth, when the Tribe defense and Lemon’s walks let them down. Vern Stephens reached on an error when Lou Boudreau was unable to handle a groundball at short to lead off the inning. Lemon then walked Bobby Doerr and first baseman Billy Goodman sacrificed the runners into scoring position. Lemon then intentionally walked Birdie Tebbetts to load the bases with one out for Parnell, and Lemon got the pitcher to hit a grounder back to him on the mound. Lemon fired home for the force out and catcher Joe Tipton relayed a throw to first to try for an inning ending double play. Tipton’s throw, however, skipped past Eddie Robinson at first, scoring Doerr and giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. The Sox added a second run the very next inning, when Lemon again walked himself into trouble.

Johnny Pesky led off the top of the sixth with a walk and then moved to third when Ted Williams lined a single into center field. Right fielder and cleanup hitter Stan Spence then bounced out to first, moving Williams to second and scoring Pesky for a 2-0 Sox advantage.

The Tribe came back to tie the game in the bottom half when Allie Clark led off the inning with a single off of Parnell. Boudreau moved Clark to second with a single of his own, and Robinson scored him with a single to right. Boudreau stopped at third on Robinson’s single and Robby advanced to second on Spence’s throw to the plate. A foul pop out by Joe Gordon followed, but Ken Keltner lifted a sacrifice fly to tie the score at 2-2.

Unfortunately for the Tribe, Lemon gave the advantage right back to Boston with the aid of more free passes. In the top of the seventh, Lemon walked Goodman to lead off the frame and Tebbetts smoked a single to left to move him to second. Parnell followed by sacrificing the runners into scoring position and Lemon then intentionally walked Dom DiMaggio. Pesky then got back the two runs that Parnell had surrendered the inning before with a single to center. DiMaggio scampered to third on the hit and Pesky went to second on the throw. With Williams at the plate, Lemon issued his third intentional pass of the game and ninth overall to reload the bases.

Boudreau brought Russ Christopher into the game to replace Lemon with the Tribe trailing 4-2 with only one out. The strategy worked initially, as Christopher got Spence to ground out to third with a force at the plate, but Stephens then tapped an infield single that brought home Pesky and gave the Red Sox a 5-2 advantage. When Christopher retired Doerr to end the inning, the book on Lemon was closed after giving up five runs, four of which were earned, on four hits with nine walks in six and one-third innings pitched.

The Indians got a run closer in the bottom of the seventh, when Tipton singled to left to start the inning. Pinch hitter Johnny Berardino pinch-hit and walked to put two runners on and Boudreau eventually scored Tipton with a two-out single. The Indians were right back in the ballgame at 5-3, but the Tribe bullpen did not keep them in it for long.

In the top of the ninth, Boston put the game out of reach by scoring two runs. The pesky Pesky led off the inning with a double and then Williams reached base on an error by Clark in left. Pesky came around to score on a double by Stephens and Williams then scored the BoSox’s seventh run on a base hit by Doerr. The two additional scores made the final tally of 7-3.

Bright spots for the Indians in defeat included Boudreau, who had three hits, and Tipton, who added two. Robinson and Keltner both chipped in RBI as well.

The Indians will try to even the series Wednesday night as the struggling Bob Feller (5-6, 3.41, 2 saves) will take on Joe Dobson (7-4, 3.18). The pitchers will have a rematch of last week’s debacle in Beantown, when Feller was defeated by Dobson in a 15-7 rout. The Major League Baseball trade deadline is also tonight at midnight, and the Indians are rumored to be talking with other teams about acquiring starting pitching help.

Photo: BostonBaseballHistory.com

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